I was going to overlook it, but my wife’s critique of my response to Brizoni stayed with me. She said it read very Episcopalian. I wanted to object, but then I realized, because I didn’t want to double the size of the post, I had failed to address his reference to a “false Story.”
It’s a can of worms. I was trying to be polite, which means not taking particular issue with his charge that I never deal with substance. Which is so patently, ridiculously untrue that I just didn’t want to get into it. You know. To be civil.
So, in fairness to myself, I’m going to link this. And give you an excerpt. A fraction of what’s in the post. A reminder that the cheapest debating trick in the world is to pretend that your opponent hasn’t really thought about what you’re so expert at.
Now then. I still propose to take the position that the secularists are demonstrably wrong and that the evidence favors the Christian perspective more than it does the secular perspective. Some of my arguments are old, and some are, well, new. But how can I dare to make such an argument in the first place? Because when it’s impossible to find some external point of comparison to use as a control (i.e., some other example of intelligent life that grappled with matters of divinity and meaning), we are compelled to look inward and learn from the recurring or exceptional patterns of our own experience at every level of scale. All our evidence about existence and its meaning or lack of it comes from the sum total of human knowledge and experience to date. If we can’t find external points of comparison, we must resort to internal points of comparison, of which, it turns out, there are virtually infinite examples. If these consistently resonate with one another, we can begin to extrapolate some universality, even about dimensions of existence beyond or below ourselves we know little about.
For example, let’s consider one of the prime axioms of science. If there is a large measurable effect, there must be a powerful cause. A dropped brick falls to the earth. The moon orbits the earth without wandering away. Related effects across a range of scales. There must be a cause. The more universal and consistent the effect, the more powerful the cause. Gravity. One of the four known forces of the universe that explain its operation. At one extreme lies black holes, where gravity is so powerful it sucks in everything that comes within its remotest influence. At the other extreme lies what? A sparrow, a butterfly, a mosquito, a gnat that falls to earth when it dies. No one has ever seen gravity itself, only its effects. The secularists have exactly the same problem with Jesus Christ.
It is true that no one can prove Jesus Christ ever existed, let alone prove that he was a superposition of human and divine identities who died for all of us and rose again from the dead, offering eternal life after death and eternal redemption from something called sin. But the effects of this invisible cause, whatever it was, are far too huge to ignore. Indeed, the effects are so stupendously enormous across all scales of human experience that it is laughable to credit objections based on sharpshooting the verifiable historicity or lack of it of the Bible. Note, expressly, that I am not postulating the accuracy of the four gospels when I use the word laughable in the context of Biblical criticism. What I’m saying is that secularists are faced with an incredibly intimidating Christian mystery of their own — if Christ didn’t exist and wasn’t who he said he was, how do you explain what happened afterwards?
And let’s not make any mistake about what happened afterwards. The cultural changes wrought by Christianity on our earth are the single biggest ongoing act of creation that we know of since the origin of life and the still theoretical Big Bang. This invisible cause, whatever it consisted of, redefined human consciousness to such a degree that it led to everything we now take for granted about ourselves — our sense of ourselves as individuals, the proliferation of competing interpretations of the originating events in the form of hundreds of variant denominations of “the faith” that continue blooming to this day, the egoistic impulse toward liberty across lines of class and in defiance of authoritarian aristocratic governments, and the curiosity that spawned modern science in the first place, including cosmology, medicine, chemistry, biology, zoology, anthropology, evolution, psychology, and even economics. Without that invisible, unverifiable cause, all but a few of Christianity’s fiercest critics wouldn’t exist at all.
The messiah who wasn’t somehow also fathered atheism, marxism, existentialism, absurdism, and the Matrix. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Hitchens who mocks Christianity wouldn’t even exist without it. The mind that he applies to the argument, the self who experiences such a volatile antipathy to what he perceives as the tyranny of misbegotten myth, would be empty, undifferentiated, and mute. Indeed, his is the greater solipsism by far than any he imputes to Christians. For he, like most secularists, imagines that somehow he could still be who he is in all his rancorous ridicule, without the 2,000 year intellectual, artistic, philosophical, and political tradition that produced him, which is overwhelmingly Christian.
Which is to say that he wishes to bask and preen in the effects of the Christian tradition even as he presumes to subtract from that tradition the cause his scientific allegiance demands must exist.
Christopher Hitchens is himself a kind of proof of the Christ.
As I said, there’s much more to the post. Things that deal more directly with the demands for evidence. Also a nicer graphic than we can post here.
Bottom line? Yes. I believe The Story. Maybe that doesn’t make me a Roman Catholic, but it makes me an Episcopalian before the Episcopal Church scooped the heart out its own theology.
Are we clear?